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Cardiac Rehabilitation

Home / I had a heart attack, what now? / Cardiac Rehabilitation

The goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to aid in your recovery following a heart event such as a heart attack, or heart surgery

The main aim is to get you back to as full a life as possible by promoting your health and keeping you well after you leave hospital.

Cardiac rehabilitation can be beneficial if you:

  • have had a heart attack
  • have had coronary angioplasty (stent)
  • have had coronary bypass surgery or another type of heart surgery
  • have stable heart failure.

Cardiac rehabilitation can also help people who have other heart conditions such as angina , cardiomyopathy and congenital heart disease.

Keith talks about the importance and value of rehabilitation after a heart attack.

When should you start cardiac rehabilitation?

There are usually three phases to cardiac rehabilitation programs. Not everyone does phase one, but if you do, you will start this while you are still in the hospital after treatment for a heart attack or other heart problem. In many hospitals you will be given information about your condition and treatment. Often a member of the cardiac rehabilitation team will talk to you and your family about:

  • Details around your recovery
  • Returning to normal activities
  • Lifestyle changes
  • How you can reduce your risk of further heart events or complications.

A phase two rehabilitation can start at any time, but will often begin soon after you leave the hospital, when you may be asked if you would like to attend a phase two cardiac rehabilitation programme. These supervised programmes generally run over six to 12 weeks and begin soon after discharge from hospital. Most programmes involve an exercise component and information/education sessions on your heart condition, treatment, risks and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and nutrition, as well as advice on returning to work, daily living activities and mental health support.

Phase three rehabilitation happens in the community. This stage of rehabilitation is on-going and can involve peer support, exercise sessions and/or support to make lifestyle changes to stay well with heart disease.

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After a 12 week cardiac rehabilitation programme, I'm all done.

Why should I go to a cardiac rehabilitation programme?

Cardiac rehabilitation can help prevent future heart problems, improve the quality of your life, and help with your overall wellbeing. Cardiac rehabilitation has a number of benefits, for example it can:

  • Lower your risk of future heart problems and your risk of dying from a heart attack
  • Lower the chance that you’ll have to go back to the hospital or emergency room for a heart problem
  • Improve your overall health by reducing your risk factors for heart problems
  • Improve your quality of life and make it easier for you to work, take part in social activities and exercise.

Attending and/or doing cardiac rehabilitation can also reduce stress levels, improve your ability to move around, and help you stay independent.

To find your local cardiac rehabilitation programmes, visit the HeartHelp Directory.

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